Houston event off as men’s tennis tour makes schedule tweaks

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
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LONDON — The U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston was canceled for the second year in a row because of the coronavirus pandemic, part of a series of changes to the men’s tennis calendar announced by the ATP.

The Houston tournament was supposed to be played April 3-11.

It was among the dozens of professional tennis events scrapped in 2020 while the tours were on hiatus for several months.

Until then, the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship had been held every year since 1929.

Among the other 2021 updates the men’s tour said it was making “in the face of scheduling challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic” was the move of the Hungarian Open clay-court tournament – usually held in Budapest in April – to Belgrade, Serbia.

The tournament director of the Belgrade event will be Djordje Djokovic, a younger brother of No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic.

The Serbia Open is scheduled to be held April 19-25. Belgrade previously hosted a tournament from 2009-12.

The ATP added two tournaments just for 2021 – in Singapore right after the Australian Open ends next month, and in Marbella, Spain, starting April 5.

The main-draw or qualifying fields are being expanded at some men’s tournaments to give more players opportunities to compete.

Sakkari through to Parma Open quarterfinals; Stephens loses

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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Parma Ladies Open.

Sakkari, who accepted a late wild card to the red clay court tournament, was playing her first event since losing to Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open.

The Greek player will next face Maryna Zanevska of Belgium after she eased past Dalma Galfi 6-1, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, lost to Danka Kovinic 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

Kovinic will face Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals after the Italian defeated compatriot Elisabetta Cocciaretto 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There will be an American in the final eight, however, as Lauren Davis rallied to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Sorribes Tormo had eliminated second-seeded Martina Trevisan in straight sets in the opening round.

Davis will play Mayar Sherif after the Egyptian player defeated Simona Waltert 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Also, third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania eased past Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan, who beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Sorribes Tormo beats 2nd-seeded Trevisan at Parma Open

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PARMA, Italy — Sara Sorribes Tormo beat second-seeded Martina Trevisan 7-5, 6-0 in the opening round of the Parma Ladies Open – marking the third consecutive first-round loss for this year’s French Open semifinalist.

Third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu advanced when Viktoriya Tomova retired with Begu leading 7-5, 5-1.

Danka Kovinic beat Oceane Dodin 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 and will next face 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Also on the red clay courts, Mayar Sherif of Egypt eliminated fifth-seeded Anna Bondar 7-5, 6-4; Elisabetta Cocciaretto defeated seventh-seeded Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-5, 6-1; and Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti earned her first tour-level win by beating Romanian qualifier Gabriela Lee 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.